Wearing Next to Nothing for the Coming Apocalypse

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Bikini-clad and covered in ash at War'hous Visual Studios on Saturday night.
Check out the pictures from Sweaty. Sultry. Sandy. in our slideshow.

Art Attack took in quite a bit of bare skin over the weekend. We spent Friday evening navigating through a seemingly endless maze of perky, tanned, European breasts and unkempt 1970s-era grooming at Hot Night: Helmut Newton at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. And on Saturday we found ourselves once again staring at tits, this time pasty-clad and undulating on a makeshift stage before a crowd that spilled out onto Main Street in front of War'hous Visual Studios.

The boobs belonged to the Bat City Bombshells, a burlesque troupe out of Austin, and the occasion was Sweaty. Sultry. Sandy...an Art Happening by Tra' Slaughter. When asked about the motivation behind the art/fashion show that featured carnival, beach, and apocalypse-themed art and fashion assemblages, Slaughter told us, "I often get bored at traditional art openings -- the quiet, stuffy environment makes me uncomfortable. I want people to be comfortable around a piece of art, and I like adding a performance element to the shows to keep them entertained."

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A collaborative effort by War'hous Visual Studios that hung from a noose attached to the ceiling greeted guests.
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Lee E. Wright
Slaughter strategically planned the live action to start at 8:35 p.m., devoting the first two and a half hours of the event to the dark and twisted two-dimensional works that covered the walls from floor to ceiling. Among the most notable pieces were Slaughter's noose-necked doomsday diva and assorted clown-faced portraits, Sam Sullivan's layered lightboxes, Lee E. Wright's gas mask beach scenes and incredibly unsettling works from photographer Jay Marroquin depicting a wide range of punishment and abuse, ranging from a Roman beachside lashing to a Nazi encounter to a picnic in the park next to a freshly lynched corpse.

At sundown, everyone was herded into the main room for the fashion show featuring attire designed and assembled by Slaughter, Shadi Farahani, and Rosemary Ray. The creations that came slinking down the makeshift runway were somewhere between Jane Fonda in Barbarella and Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. -- basically just enough fabric to cover the naughty bits -- paired with grittier elements like Day of the Dead-inspired face paint, combat boots, enormous frizzed-out coiffures and tattered hosiery. A handsome older woman standing next to us was almost beside herself with excitement (think Kristen Wiig's over-the-top vacation giveaway gal on SNL), emitting wild gasps and chortles of delight at the passing models and leaping into almost every photo we attempted to take. She explained afterward that she was visiting Houston from Pittsburg and had met the models and organizers at the ZaZa earlier that day and decided to come and check out the Houston art scene.

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Attendees were also encouraged to dress for the beach, the carnival, or the end of days. We're not sure which category this lovely pink and purple ensemble falls under, we just know that we like it.
By the time the burlesque dancers replaced the models on the tiny outdoor stage there was such a throng of humanity on the lawn outside that passing cars were slowing to a stroll on Main street, trying to figure out what on earth was going on. We can't remember ever seeing such a spectacle (or a crowd) at such a small gallery. We're not entirely sure the organizers anticipated the turnout either, as the drink line was abysmal and poorly organized, and the overall setup a bit chaotic at times. But if Slaughter's ultimate goal was to entertain, we'd have to say the evening was an overwhelming success.


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